A novel blue-light phototropic response is revealed in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana in microgravity

Abstract

Main conclusion

Blue-light positive phototropism in roots is masked by gravity and revealed in conditions of microgravity. In addition, the magnitude of red-light positive phototropic curvature is correlated to the magnitude of gravity.

Due to their sessile nature, plants utilize environmental cues to grow and respond to their surroundings. Two of these cues, light and gravity, play a substantial role in plant orientation and directed growth movements (tropisms). However, very little is currently known about the interaction between light- (phototropic) and gravity (gravitropic)-mediated growth responses. Utilizing the European Modular Cultivation System on board the International Space Station, we investigated the interaction between phototropic and gravitropic responses in three Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes, Landsberg wild type, as well as mutants of phytochrome A and phytochrome B. Onboard centrifuges were used to create a fractional gravity gradient ranging from reduced gravity up to 1g. A novel positive blue-light phototropic response of roots was observed during conditions of microgravity, and this response was attenuated at 0.1g. In addition, a red-light pretreatment of plants enhanced the magnitude of positive phototropic curvature of roots in response to blue illumination. In addition, a positive phototropic response of roots was observed when exposed to red light, and a decrease in response was gradual and correlated with the increase in gravity. The positive red-light phototropic curvature of hypocotyls when exposed to red light was also confirmed. Both red-light and blue-light phototropic responses were also shown to be affected by directional light intensity. To our knowledge, this is the first characterization of a positive blue-light phototropic response in Arabidopsis roots, as well as the first description of the relationship between these phototropic responses in fractional or reduced gravities.

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Abbreviations

EMCS:

European Modular Cultivation System

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this study was provided by NASA Grant NNX12A065G, and we would like to acknowledge the fine support of NASA’s Ames Research Center. In addition to NASA, we would like to thank the European Space Agency and the Norwegian User Support and Operations Center (N-USOC) for their support on this project. Finally, we would like to thank the astronauts on board the ISS for their support, without whom these experiments would not be possible.

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Correspondence to John Z. Kiss.

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Suppl. Fig. S1

Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 155 kb) Heat map of blue light illumination within an individual seedling cassette

Suppl. Fig. S2

Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 149 kb) Heat map of red-light illumination within an individual seedling cassette

Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 141 kb)

Supplementary material 4 (TIFF 146 kb)

Supplementary material 5 (TIFF 90 kb)

Supplementary material 6 (TIFF 89 kb)

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Vandenbrink, J.P., Herranz, R., Medina, F.J. et al. A novel blue-light phototropic response is revealed in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana in microgravity. Planta 244, 1201–1215 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00425-016-2581-8

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Keywords

  • Arabidopsis
  • Fractional gravity
  • Microgravity
  • Phototropism
  • Reduced gravity
  • Spaceflight